The Huawei subreddit is in a bit of an uproar today, as multiple posts have popped up indicating that the company has started pushing lock screen ads for users of its smartphones, all without the user’s permission or awareness.
Multiple Reddit threads in the last 24 hours show that owners of Huawei phones, seemingly in the EU region, are seeing a variety of Booking.com ads on their lock screens. These are not actually interactive ads, but rather a part of the rotating lock screen wallpaper gallery that users can find by default through the Magazine view on their Huawei smartphones.
Users have found a few workarounds to the intrusive and uninvited ads. The first is to simply delete the offending wallpapers from the Magazine gallery. You can do so by swiping up from the bottom of the screen on the lock screen, then swiping left until you find the Booking.com images and deleting them, as one Redditor explains.
Another fix is to simply disable the Magazine view entirely and either use a single image or your own wallpapers.
Huawei would not be the first smartphone manufacturer to push ads through its OS to make a little bit more money off its wares. Xiaomi is famous for doing this in developing markets like India. Amazon, too, tried something similar with its Kindle lineup some time back. The difference here is that Huawei never notified users of the change, and has generally never talked in public about instituting these changes. Even worse, the ads are showing up on even flagship grade phones by the company, such as its recently released P30 Pro. That is certainly going to leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who bought the gadget for as much as €999.
Huawei is already struggling in Western markets after its networking equipment business was flagged by the Trump administration as a potential national security threat, while the company’s recent addition to an export blacklist has prevented the company from having access to critical U.S.-made technologies for its products. To survive these trying times, the Chinese giant will need all the goodwill from Western customers that it can muster, and sneakily adding ads to their lock screens is definitely not the best way to go about doing that.
We’ve reached out to Huawei to find out more about why these ads are showing up, and if this is an indication of a change in the way Huawei monetizes its phones. We’ll update the article if we hear back from the company’s representatives.